Managers & Leaders

While perusing though LinkedIn updates recently, I noticed a definite trend when it comes to comparing Managers and Leaders.  It basically boils down to this: Manager = Bad; Leader = Good.

Based on the prevailing wisdom, one would come to the conclusion that managers are evil, nasty, no good, dirty, rotten, scoundrels, while leaders are compassionate, kind, giving of their time, and patient, caring, just plain wonderful people. 

We are also told that to be a Leader, you don’t have to manage people, which is absolutely true.  But what’s missing is that to be a Manager, you better be a Leader.  Somewhere along the line, we have confused the activity of being a Manager with the title of Manager.  But what’s worse is it’s now become so bad that we have replaced the title of “Manager” with “Leader”, as if that will make a difference.  No longer are you the “HR Manager” you are now the “HR Leader” – really?

If you are a Manager, you had better be a Leader.  If not, then you are just a Manager in title only.

When you think about it though, these Managers in title, didn’t self-coronate themselves into this role.  They probably didn’t walk in the office one day, execute a coup d’etat, and declare themselves the Manager.  Someone put them in that position.  Someone made a decision that they should be the Manager.  Maybe they were a hard worker, and got a lot of things done?  Maybe we were afraid they might leave, and the only way to give them more money was to make them a Manager? Maybe no one bothered to ask if they were a Leader?  When companies complain about bad Managers, about Managers not being Leaders, they have no one to blame but themselves.  Management is the problem there are bad Managers.  Perhaps it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and bad Managers beget bad Managers.  But it is something that needs to change.

I once worked for someone who, when faced with a challenging situation, pulled out an old truck side-mirror he kept under his desk.  He looked at it and asked a simple question: “Am I the problem?”  Maybe it’s time we take a look at the mirror and ask the same question.

A Leader would.

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